A new book by New York Times bestseller Fawn Weaver, The Argument-Free Marriage, proposes a 28-day programme to lead you towards "a peaceful and supportive relationship”. She’ll teach you to “communicate effectively, build understanding and defuse anger”.
Defuse anger? Give me a break. I signed up to marriage 15 years ago so that I could have loads of arguments. I mean, seriously loads. I don’t mean “break the crockery, consider calling the police” kind of arguments. (That is domestic violence, not arguing.) No. I mean “throwing a toilet roll somewhere near a head because you’re frustrated” kind of arguing. This happened. It was the worst throw ever in the history of toilet-roll throws. An evaluation which started a whole other argument.
A marriage without arguments is a whitewash. If you agreed with someone about everything all the time, would it be worth dedicating your life to this person? I don’t think so. A relationship without arguments is no kind of relationship at all. Arguments are the lifeblood of any relationship. Of course, they shouldn't be damaging arguments which dominate your life. And they shouldn’t be the only way you talk to each other. But disagreements and differences are what keeps a partnership alive. If you really care about anything, you argue.
A relationship without arguments is no kind of relationship at all. Arguments are the lifeblood of any relationship
I’m not sure that Fawn Weaver would entirely disagree with me about this. Because she would back down early doors to avoid starting a row. In her TED talk, she talks about a moment before she got married when her husband blacked out and was rushed to hospital. He recovered, but she resolved that she would never say anything to him ever again that she would regret. Because life is too short. Hence no arguing. Ever. She contends that cross words negate love, the strongest human emotion.
I don’t get this. I argue with my husband because I love him. I am not an argumentative or angry person but, if I am ready to argue a point with you (whether I’m married to you or not), it’s because I care about what we’re discussing and I respect your point of view and want to know more about it. It doesn’t mean I will shout at you (although I might make a lot of frustrated faces and have to stop myself from saying “doh” a lot). But it does mean I will argue until some kind of conclusion or impasse has been reached.
I can see why Weaver wants to take the toxicity out of some relationships. In a marriage, if you use arguments to talk about what you need to talk about when you could be having a normal conversation, that’s not healthy. But, equally, I’ve noticed that not arguing can be just as difficult as arguing. Leaving things unsaid and not showing how strongly you really feel about things? That’s not love either. That is storing up not an argument, but a massive, almost-unforgivable blow-up. And you don’t want those happening. Although they're also normal once every two to three years, in my experience. Keep a toilet roll handy.